Friday, September 09, 2011

McLarty Treasure Museum

Vero Beach, Florida

This area of Florida is known as the Treasure Coast, because of the large number of treasure ships that have sunk in these waters.

The other day, we visited the McLarty Treasure Museum on Orchid Island.  Isn’t that a pretty name for a city?

In 1715 a fleet of 11 Spanish ships were traveling back to Spain from Cuba.  They ran into a hurricane and all the ships sunk.  They were near shore and many people survived and set up a camp at this location.  A Spanish King (I can’t remember what his name was) had a chest of jewels on board that was for his new queen’s dowry.  It is said that she wouldn’t sleep with him until she received her dowry.  Unfortunately, every time he gathered up all the jewels required, and they would be on their way back to Spain, the ship would sink.  I think this was the 3rd ship to sink with her jewels.  I don’t know if the King ever got any or not.

The museum is run by the Florida State Parks, and there is a  $2.oo fee to enter.  Our annual parks pass didn’t  give us free entry.

There was an interesting film about the museum, starting from the Spanish fleet that sunk to the treasure salvors that have have been bringing up treasure from this spot.  They have found a lot of treasure, but say that the majority  of it is still there.

File Survivors  and Salvagers  Camp   1715 Fleet Historical Marker.jpg   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia

After we left the museum, we went down to Wabasso beach and took a walk.  There are a lot of Sea Turtle nests in the sand.  We would love to see the babies hatch and head out to the ocean.  I did find an empty shell of a baby turtle.

Sea Turtle Egg

During the summer,  if you are very lucky, you can witness a turtle come onshore and lay her eggs.  They come in at night, dig a hole and lay about 100 eggs and then head back out to see.  Al and I have waited patiently on the beaches many times, but never have been so lucky.  My Mother, on the other hand has!  She was just sitting out on the beach with her friend when a big old turtle came up beside them and laid her eggs!  Boy that made Al mad. SmileOne year, we found a wayward baby turtle in a parking lot.  They are supposed to hatch, then head to the ocean, with guidance from the moon.  Sometimes the lights on the beach confuse them and they head the wrong way. Of course we rescued this baby turtle.  We packed him up in a cooler full of fresh sea water and took him to a sea turtle rescue facility.  They keep them a little while, then take them out by boat to the sargasso grass right off shore.  They say only 1 in a 100 babies will live to reproduce.  They come back to the exact same spot where they were hatched.  Isn’t that amazing that they could find that same spot?

The following is a picture I took many years ago of an adult Loggerhead turtle.  We were on a dive in the Gulf.   My first sight of him was a dark shadow above me.  These are large creatures, weighing about  400 pounds.  I looked up and saw him right overhead.  The next thing I knew, he was swimming right at me.  Of course I always carried my camera and I was thrilled to be able to take such close up pictures.  He kept swimming right towards me, getting too close for me to take pictures.  I kept swimming backwards, al the while shooting pictures.  I took dozens of photos that day, but this was the best one.  It was a wonderful memory that I will always cherish.   I was a little concerned at the time because I thought he may have thought I was a girl sea turtle.  He was not acting like they normally do.  We saw lots of sea turtles over the years and they normally don’t pay much attention to you and just swim away.  This guy kept coming towards me.


The two fish with him are called Remora.  They have little suction cup type things on their backs and they attach themselves to turtles and sharks…or an occasional diver. Smile  They are a pain in the neck because they drive you crazy trying to attach to your legs.  I hated them!  When we would see one, I would always get nervous because you knew they were either swimming with a shark or a turtle.  It was always a relief to see the turtle!

A couple of weeks ago, I put in a work camping application with the Florida Parks Service. 
We got a call this week from Oleta River State Park in North Miami.  It’s a day use park on Biscayne Bay.  It would be a wonderful area to explore and do some kayaking.  It would be nice and warm all winter and probably a lot of fun.  The main job would be picking up trash from the visitors.  I imagine that could be a big job.  We declined this offer because it’s too far away from Tampa and we think it’s better to be closer to Mom…not to mention Al’s pest control customers.  We also were a bit concerned about our safety.  Miami has a very high crime rate. 

The second work camping call we got was from St Andrews State Park  in Panama City Florida.  That is one of the nicest parks in Florida and one that we would love to visit.  They have beautiful waterfront sites. They need someone now through the end of the year.  Again, we had to decline to be closer to Tampa.  It’s a beautiful park, but the panhandle gets way too cold in the winter…..we learned that living just north of Tallahassee!

We aren’t actively looking for volunteer positions, but if the right one comes along, we wouldn’t mind doing it for a while.  Since we have our Thousand Trails membership with 9 parks in Florida, we are pretty well covered with cheap camp sites.

If you know of anyone looking for positions, these both might be very nice!

Today we plan on an “early morning” kayak trip to Wabasso Causeway.  The only problem is that it’s now 8am and we’re still not there!  We seem to be having a lot of trouble getting moving in the mornings lately!


  1. have a great day!!..the turtles sound so interesting!!!

  2. That turtle picture is amazing. And my heart goes out to that poor King who just couldn't seem to get anything. How frustrating - lol. I'm sure there are lots of people out there that would love those two workcamping positions. Moving by 8:00? Not happening in our world.

  3. Great history lesson on the Spanish ships - there's gold in them thar waters!!

    Fantastic photo of the turtle too!

  4. I agree that turtle photo is amazing.

  5. That turtle looks pretty scary - even more so if he thought you were a girl turtle. Great photo.

    Hope you enjoyed your day.

  6. Wow GREAT photo... I swam with the turtles in the keys and it was a great experience. Sadly I didn't think to bring an underwater camera but you got a awesome one. Those both sounded like great job opportunities but we are not looking for work... LOL Those ships are realyy interesting.
    Have fun

  7. The treasure park sounds like a good place to visit. Going on the list. Thanks.

  8. The turtle picture is amazing! We saw one in the water, surface near our boat on a pontoon trip this summer in St. Andrews Bay.
    We just left St. Andrews SP after a 6 month volunteer stint and we love it (our 3rd time there)! Just beware....hosts now have to clean bathrooms! That is why they are short one wants that yuckie job!

  9. Karen...on the TT website, they only list 3 Florida parks. You have 9? Just curious, thanks.


Please feel free to leave comments. We love to read them! To contact me directly you can send e-mail to